View ESSSI 2016 Conference Programme details. 

The VIIth Conference of the European Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction

Integrating Interactionist Traditions: Building Theoretical, Methodological, and Disciplinary Bridges in the Study of Everyday Life

July 4th-8th, 2016, Topola, Bulgaria

The aim of the Conference is to bring together prominent scholars with rich and diverse backgrounds in the field of social psychology and symbolic interactionism from a number of disciplines, countries, and continents. It seeks to expand upon the organizational experiences and successful practices established through the previous conferences that the EU SSSI has hosted in Pisa (2010), Kassel (2011), Rotterdam (2012), Uppsala (2013), Aalborg (2014), and Salford (2015), with the support of the SSSI.

As with previous EU SSSI conferences, our ambition is to facilitate knowledge transfer and encourage the exchange of research experience between European and North American scholarly traditions as well as between sociology and other social sciences. A special feature of this Conference is that it is the first conference on symbolic interaction in Eastern Europe, where scholars have worked within interactionist traditions, particularly during the last twenty years, in order to tackle specific and urgent social problems. We also hope that the Conference venue will help integrate a broader range of European traditions than our previous conferences in Southern, Northern, and Western Europe.

The Conference host is the Institute for Population and Human Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, which has strong socio-psychological and interactionist traditions as the heir of the Institute of Psychology.

Topola Skies Resort on the seacoast north of Varna was selected as the Conference venue in order to draw upon Bulgaria’s experience in organizing scientific conferences for over 50 years on the Black Sea. The venue has facilities suitable for both larger and smaller meetings and gatherings, and an effort will be made to avoid parallel sessions. Topola Skies makes it very convenient for Conference participants to be accompanied by family members, and the location provides good opportunities for exploring the rich history and culture of the Black Sea region and elsewhere in the country as well.

Join us!

Keynote speakers

Gary Fine

Dr.  Gari Alan Fine is  professor of Sociology at Northwestern University.He received his Ph. D. in Social Psychology from Harvard University and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences His current research has four distinct streams. He is interested in understanding the difficult reputations and problematic collective memories of figures such as Joseph McCarthy, Charles Lindbergh, Warren Harding, and Benedict Arnold. This research was most recently published in Sticky Reputations: The Politics of Collective Memory in Midcentury America (2012). His current research involves the shifting reputations and political positions of Southern segregationist politics.

As an ethnographer he is currently completing a book on the worlds of competitive chess, examining the development of status systems and reputation markets. He is also beginning a project to examine the field of public relations, particularly as involving the management of celebrity reputation.

His third stream of research involves the interpretation of rumor and contemporary legend, particularly political and economic rumor. Fine is the author of The Global Grapevine: Why Rumors of Terrorism, Immigration and Trade Matter (2010).

Finally, Dr. Fine writes on microsociological theory, focusing on small group culture. He has recently published Tiny Publics: A Theory of Group Culture and Action (2012).

Joseph Kotarba

Joseph A. Kotarba, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology at Texas State University, where he serves as Director of the Center for Social Inquiry.  He is also a faculty member of the Institute for Translational Sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston.  Dr. Kotarba received his doctorate from the University of California, San Diego.  His major areas of scholarly interest are culture, science, health and illness, deviance, everyday life social theory, and qualitative methods.  Dr. Kotarba’s most recent books are Symbolic Interactionist Takes on Music: The Couch-Stone Papers, co-edited with Christopher Schneider (Emerald Press, 2016), Death and Resurrection of Deviance, co-edited with Michael Dellwing and Nathan Pino (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014); and Baby Boomer Rock ‘n’ Roll Fans (Rowman and Littlefield, 2013), for which he received the 2014 Charles Horton Cooley Award for Best Book from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction.  He is currently conducting research on music experiences among the elderly, and scientists’ perceptions of the creative relationship between science end music.Dr. Joseph A. Kotarba is a professor of sociology at Texas State University. He joined Texas State in 2010 after serving as chair of sociology at the University of Houston. Dr. Kotarba established the Center for Social Inquiry in Sociology and continues to serve as its director. His research and teaching are in the sociology of everyday life, which examines the ways people seek meaning for life and life’s problems through their group memberships and social activities.

Lauren Langman

Dr. Lauren Langman, Professor of Sociology, Loyola University, received his PhD in Human Development from the University of Chicago. Although he had planned a career in psychology, his interest shifted to sociology as a result of participation in civil rights and anti war movements, with sociology serving as a way for understanding how social conflict was based on group membership and interests rather than individual personality. As a result, his work as a sociologist has always had an interdisciplinary focus largely concerned with the relations of the historically instantiated social structure and culture to the individual.

Dr. Langman is primarily a social theorist writing in the tradition of the Frankfurt School, particularly their early concerns with character and culture. This currently informs his approach to the questions of identity and hegemony in a global age. His theoretical writing examines the nature of self, subjectivity, and modernity, dealing with such issues as agency, or its lack, as alienation. His substantive research interests concern the dialects of political economy, culture, and identity in such varied forms as Islamic fundamentalism, alternative globalization movements, and the carnivalization of culture. Dr. Langman has widely published in these areas and has a forthcoming book on the Carnivalization of America. He is past president of Research Committee 36, Alienation Research and Theory, at the International Sociological Association. He is also a member of the editorial boards of Social Theory, Current Perspectives in Social Theory, and Critical Sociology.

Staci Newmahr

Dr. Staci Newmahr is an ethnographer and sociologist whose work plays with intersections of gender, nonconformity, risk-taking, emotion and eroticism. Newmahr is an Associate Editor of Symbolic Interaction and Associate Professor at SUNY Buffalo State.

Dr. Newmahr’s Playing on the Edge: Sadomasochism, Risk, and Intimacy was published in 2011 (Indiana University Press). More recently, she has published work on the erotic space of Renaissance Faire, based on participant-observation research in 2010-11. Newmahr is currently working on a longer-term project on gender and contemporary erotic proliferations.

Sam Hillyard



Dr. Sam Hillyard is a Reader in Sociology in the School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University. She received her PhD from Warwick University and held research and lecturing positions in Lancaster, Keele, and Nothingham prior to joining the School in 2009.

Prof. Hillyard's work is informed by an enduring commitment to applied sociology, specifically the synergies between theoretical ideas and empirical ethnographic research. This interest has been applied across a variety of research settings, including senior academics in UK universities; senior policy makers and members of the farming and veterinary communities; social science research on game shooting in the UK; and the role of the school in rural communities. Recent publications have addressed such topics as fieldwork; rural sociology; managerialism in UK universities; theory and ethnography; "big data" and qualitative methods; and power, class, social relations, and change.

Thomas DeGloma

 Dr. Thomas DeGloma is an Assistant Professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY), and an Associate Editor of Symbolic Interaction. He received his Ph.D. from Rutgers University and specializes in the areas of culture, cognition, memory, symbolic interaction, and sociological theory. His research interests also include the sociology of time, knowledge, autobiography, identity, and trauma. 

Professor DeGloma’s recent book, Seeing the Light: The Social Logic of Personal Discovery (University of Chicago Press, 2014), explores the stories people tell about life-changing discoveries of “truth” and illuminates the ways that individuals and communities use autobiographical stories to weigh in on salient moral and political controversies. This book received the 2015 Charles Horton Cooley Book Award from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. More recently, Professor DeGloma published a comparative analysis of three mnemonic battles (concerning child sexual abuse, the Vietnam War, and American Slavery) in which he details the various ways agents coordinate autobiographical and collective memories in public contests for mnemonic authority. He is currently working on a book which explores the phenomenon of anonymity and the performance and impact of anonymous actors in various social situations and interactions throughout history. In his research, Professor DeGloma seeks to bridge the concerns of symbolic interactionism and cultural sociology, advancing a cultural, historical, and comparative interactionist approach in order to reveal patterns and processes underlying various contexts and cases. 






Emotions and Social Movements 

Workshop coordinators: Lauren Langman, Tova Benski 


Visual Methods in Ethnography 

Workshop coordinator: Lisa-Jo Van Den Scott 

Background reading material 

Applied Social Research, Policy Studies, and Symbolic Interaction

Workshop coordinator: Joseph Kotarba


Background reading material